Bali to curb tourist access in temples

Tourists visit Lempuyang temple which overlooks Mount Agung volcano, in Bali, Indonesia, on Dec 3, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS
Tourists visit Lempuyang temple which overlooks Mount Agung volcano, in Bali, Indonesia, on Dec 3, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS PHOTO: REUTERS

BALI • The Bali administration is preparing a new regulation that will ban tourists from entering the main and most sacred parts of temples across the island after a series of incidents where boorish tourists desecrated holy sites.

Balinese Hindus were shocked when a photo of a foreigner sitting on top of a shrine at the Luhur Batukaru temple in Tabanan regency went viral on Instagram and spread to other social media platforms earlier this month.

The tourist was identified as 36-year-old Tony Kristian Jarvi from Finland after he went to Sanur police station following a motorcycle accident, and confessed that it was him in the photo.

Mr Jarvi was taken to the Penebel police station where he was asked to perform a cleansing ritual at the temple.

He has since deleted his photo on Instagram and apologised to Bali residents. He also posted a video compilation of him performing the cleansing ritual at the temple.

His case was not the only one that has offended Balinese Hindus. In April, a European tourist posted a photo on his Instagram account of him sitting on top of a shrine in the Besakih temple. In July, two foreign tourists posted a similar photo of a temple in Nusa Lembongan.

The head of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Hindu Religious Council, Mr I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, told The Jakarta Post that he was very offended by the tourists' actions. "I'm very angry about what they did. I think everyone should respect every place of worship of any religion, not just temples," he said on Wednesday.

 
 
 

He also urged the government to take action to prevent such incidents from happening again.

Following the incident involving Mr Jarvi, the Bali administration said it was drafting a regulation to prevent a similar incident from happening, while still ensuring tourists can visit the temples.

Bali Tourism Agency head Anak Agung Gede Yuniartha Putra said the local administration was discussing the regulation, saying it would ban tourists from entering sacred areas of temples but still allow them to enter the outer courtyards. The administration would also install signs informing tourists of the temples' rules, and regulate visiting hours.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2018, with the headline 'Bali to curb tourist access in temples'. Print Edition | Subscribe